Twenty years is a milestone and an eventful year for the University of St. Martin (USM).
The higher learning institution will be commemorating its 20th Anniversary on September 5th, 2009 with an evening full of activities at its campus in Philipsburg.
USM was formally established in 1989 with an inauguration ceremony and classes beginning in September of that year in a building that was originally designed to house Public Works.
"The twentieth anniversary is going to be a remarkable and historic event, one which my staff and I are very proud to be associated with in these challenging, and at the same time very dynamic times. As president my role is a very complex one, however, I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute at this level of human capacity building for country St. Maarten. We have come very far since 1989 and we want our public to see with their own eyes what we have achieved," "USM President Josianne Fleming-Artsen stated.
The 20th Anniversary celebrations include speeches and presentations honoring founders the late Dr. Claude Wathey and Dr. Hushang Ansary. Especially important in the evening’s event will be the expression of gratitude to all of the donors that have helped to make the second floor of the current building a reality. The second floor consists of five new classrooms and office and other space, including a new teacher’s lounge, conference room and office spaces for Board of Directors and the Student Government Association (SGA). In addition, as part of the Open House, in many of the new classrooms there will be Powerpoint and pictorial presentations. Some of these presentations include: 20 years of history of USM, and degree programs offered by the institution. The USM students, the alumni of USM, the USM faculty and a program of the Fundraising and construction of the second floor of the building will also be featured. Guests can visit each of the classrooms to view the presentations.
"USM has grown in different ways and has evolved into a learning institution for this community. There is never a dull moment at USM as change is an experience we undergo on a daily basis. We have gone through an experience of metamorphosis and have become an institution to reckon with. We do have long roads to travel but like a butterfly with wings and the ability to fly, we are processing all our challenges to ensure our flight. Our students remain our top priority and we are doing all that is necessary to ensure that we accommodate their needs," President Fleming Artsen said.
Invitations have been sent to the minister of education and leader of government/commissioner of education and deputy leader, respectively, and various stakeholders in the community.
The Foundation of the University of St. Martin, Board of Directors (BOD) will also be unveiling special plaques and donor boards at the institution. The Partners in Education, the Classroom Sponsors, the Patrons and friends of the University will be honored for their generous contributions.
The President of the Board Dr. Lockie Johnson expressed that "USM has doubled in size due to the donations from the community and USONA and USM accepts the challenge to double in quality."
The celebrations are expected to get underway at 6:00pm. Music will be provided by a steel pan player and a local string band.
"Particularly, I am grateful to our hard working staff and faculty and all those who help to provide along with me leadership on a daily basis. Our gratitude goes to the Foundation of the University of St. Martin, the Building and Fundraising Committee whose voluntarism is beyond words. The Foundation has realized the dream and we are grateful," President Fleming-Artsen stated.
The University of St. Martin is the only institution of higher learning on the island offering several associate degrees in business and general liberal arts, bachelor degrees in business, education, and hospitality and one master’s degree, in education, in addition to several non degree programs such as the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) Tutorial and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.
Two of the bachelor programs and the master program are offered in conjunction with other universities, namely Mount St. Vincent University and the University of the Virgin Islands. USM has been recognized as the teachers training institution for the Windward Islands. The institution also works in collaboration with Curacao Institute for Social and Economic Sciences (CURISES) for its Hospitality and Tourism Management program.
USM has more than 550 alumni many of whom have gone on to work internationally and locally in various sectors.